They told us to go home. The shift wasn't over yet and it was almost break time. We all knew what had happened and when the ambulance came, we
thought it would leave empty. Instead, they took Lewis, who drove the jitney. Not really his fault but, even from a distance, you could see he wasn't himself, slumped and white as a sheet of paper. He had seen
what happened but there was nothing anyone could do after that. The bin was too heavy, like a boot coming down on an ant. Nothing left. No name released, but we knew.
She is not found, not in the French apartment, not in the river, nor with the
potato peelings and gristle in the trash. She had been taken swiftly, when no one was watchful. He claimed to adore her, went to study her often before stealing her under his jacket and walking away, as he had with so many others. When he was finally caught, he claimed his mother knew her worth, and yet she destroyed them all, afraid for her son, for herself.
The princess portrait with her long hair unbound, awaiting her betrothal, her smile wistful, her hands crossed.
A man sits on the edge of a bed with his hands together, looking into the distance. It is a white bed frame, like a bleached skeleton, in a field of others.
It has been raining and now there are large puddles. The soil is orange. In the distance are walls. He seems to be waiting. Perhaps he moves the beds, the bodies, or the supplies. He wears no gloves, no mask. Perhaps he waits for someone, or no one, if it is too late. Perhaps he waits, as we all wait, when there is nothing else left to do.
Some things shouldn't be seen. What can be seen, can't be unseen. And yet to see the true face of the executioner holding a knife in his left hand, the man with the accent who makes demands of the world. Long fingers that clench the knife, clutch coins, cast crumbs from a mouth that will not be satisfied. They are cold, are warm, raising a steaming cup to uncompromising lips. These fingers that conceal the face, open and close, fall asleep and wake; are known by their clasp and release, clean the knife, cast long shadows in a hardened place.
Here is a man, as if asleep, at the side of the street. He has no shoes, no hat.
One arm is under his head, the other across his body. He could be asleep, as if in a Rousseau painting, in a desert with a lion over him. But this is modern times, he wears a t-shirt, a wristwatch, pants tied by a string. A boy is watching him, with his shirt over his mouth and nose. He is not too close. It is hard to tell this man has been hit. His face is unblemished, his arms clean.